The Doc’s AFLW Draft Top 25

We’ve had the trade period come and go, culminating in a wild 11-team, 12-player, 24-pick trade that would’ve aroused Adam Cooney to no end.

And just like that, the AFLW Draft is near, with the Draft all set to go on Monday night, talk about a tight turnaround.

I haven’t forgotten about the trade period. I’ll be doing something on that soon, but for the past few weeks, I’ve been hitting the draft, watching tapes of the best under-18 talent we’ve got to offer.

The four expansion clubs got early Christmas presents by pre-listing up to three players tied to their Academy/under-18 feeder club.
Port Adelaide lucked out by securing the best talent of this year by a country mile in tall utility Lauren Young, a top-two prospect in midfielder Shineah Goody, and a top-10 talent in Molly Brooksby.

Hawthorn also picked up some quality young talent out of the Eastern Ranges, picking up Laura Stone, a midfielder who is well in the top three Victorian talents from this year’s class; they also picked up outside midfielder Hayley McLaughlin and Ruck Jess Vukic.

Essendon and Sydney only signed one player each, the Bombers picking up Amy Gaylor and the Swans securing Holly Cooper.

Most of these would’ve found their way into this top 25, but once again, the AFL loves to fiddle and tamper around with the rules to make themselves feel important, but that’s one for another time.

Here are my top 25 draft prospects heading into Monday night’s draft.

25: Isabel Bacon – Mid-Def, Vic Metro, 172cm
Nominated: Victoria
U18 stats: 11.3 disposals, 2.7 marks, 4.3 tackles, 2.3 rebound 50s – three games

While Isabel Bacon doesn’t quite have the skill set battened down yet, what is so impressive about her game is her physicality and mongrel around the contest, for lack of a better term. She’s a strong-bodied midfielder who has seen time off the half-back line.

Bacon has played numerous sports through her juniors, so her craft and knowledge of the game will take time to develop. Still, in just one season, she has proven to be an outstanding tackler, averaging over seven tackles per game for the Sandringham Dragons this year, backed up with 4.3 tackles per game in all three games for Vic Metro in the championships.

Her athletic traits make her stand out, and I believe that given the right team, she can develop and flourish into more than just a physical enforcer-type of player


24: Chloe Adams – Midfielder, Vic Country, 165cm
Nominated: Victoria
Talent League Stats: 25.6 disposals, 8.1 tackles, 3.5 marks, 4.6 inside 50s, 2.2 rebound 50s – 14 games, three goals

Chloe Adams is an old-fashioned footballer – She doesn’t possess the athleticism that others around her may have, but she has an elite set of skills with the ball that very few can rival.

She’s an excellent contested-possession winner but can just as easily win the ball on the outside, such is her smarts and positioning. She can use the ball on both sides of her body and is an impressive tackler, averaging over eight tackles per game for Geelong Falcons in the Talent League and over seven per game for Vic Country this year in the championships.

Another slight on Adams’ game is that she’s not a prolific goalkicker; she kicked nothing in the championships and just three goals this year in the Talent League. But at least in the defensive half and the middle of the ground, she ticks all the boxes.


23: Sienna McMullen – Outside Mid, Queensland, 164cm
Nominated: Queensland
U18 stats: 12 disposals, three marks, three tackles, 2.7 rebound 50s – three games

A talented outside midfielder out of the Gold Coast Suns Academy, Sienna McMullen is a player who built up much momentum from her performance in the under-17s showcase in June of last year.

There’s not a lot of her, and she’s not shown much of an inside game, but her work being out in the open has her as one of the more dangerous players to have when the ball is in her hands. She has the speed to burn, a tank to run for long periods, and the ability to hit targets precisely and make the right decisions.

She might be far from being a midfielder who can do both the inside and out, but McMullen has an outstanding athletic profile and already has a well-established skill set regarding her ball use.


22: Bryde O’Rourke – Mid-Fwd, Vic Country, 175cm
Nominated: Victoria
U18 stats: nine disposals, 2.3 marks, three tackles, 3.3 inside 50s – three games

Bryde O’Rourke will head to Geelong via the Father/Daughter rule, as father Ray played just two games for Geelong in… *checks notes* 1969? Like that was 54 years ago. Anyway, O’Rourke is still a raw prospect but boasts a tremendous athletic profile: She’s got size, she’s got speed, and she’s remarkably agile.

She only played seven games in the talent league in 2021 and ’22 but emerged this year to average 16.1 disposals per game and managed six goals from 11 matches for the Bendigo Pioneers.

That said, she played a good blend of forward and midfield this year for Bendigo and Vic Country and looked comfortable mixing it in regarding her contested work. The kicking remains a work in progress, but that’s something that can be worked on over the next few years.


21: Jemma Rigoni – Utility, Vic Metro, 172cm
Nominated: Victoria
U18 stats: 11 disposals, two marks, 2.5 tackles, 1.5 inside 50s – two games

The daughter of Melbourne’s Guy Rigoni, who played 105 games for Melbourne between 1998 and 2005. Jemma Rigoni missed out on being drafted last year due to a knee injury and returned this year as an overage prospect. She showed her potential across both the defensive half and on the wing.

She’s intelligent in knowing exactly where to position herself in defence and where to be to receive the ball from the contest. She also has the size and running ability to make her a formidable winger.

She’s set to go to Melbourne, where she’ll probably be battling for a few seasons before she gets her chance. She’s an intelligent player in the air and has versatility, but she’ll need to brush up on her composure, which has been left wanting at times this year.


20: Rania Crozier – Key Forward, Queensland, 178cm
Nominated: Queensland
U18 stats: 10.7 disposals, 3.7 marks, 1.3 tackles – three games, four goals

Rania Crozier, A key forward with great athleticism, had an interrupted journey due to an ACL injury sustained in 2021 and only featured once for the Lions Academy last year.

That said, we saw much more of her this year, and she was a prominent figure in Queensland’s under-18 championships campaign. She kicked a bag of three against the Allies and had a solid performance against South Australia.

She’s a player with a significant overhead mark and has shown a great work rate getting up the ground and back deep. Injury is perhaps the root cause of why she’s as low as here, but her upside is enormous enough.


19: Lila Keck – Mid-Fwd, Vic Country, 162cm
Nominated: Victoria
U18 stats: 14 disposals, two marks, 2.7 tackles – three games, three goals

Lila Keck is a unique player who can thrive either in the forward line or as a high half-forward type. Up forward, she’s got an insane knack for knowing where the goals are and is often reliable in front of the big sticks. When in the midfield, she’s elusive and hard to catch.

While she doesn’t boast that explosive speed that top-line midfielders rely on out of stoppage, she’s still quite agile and has the tank to keep on running when others start to falter.

Keck kicked 10 goals from 17 games at Bendigo in the talent league in the past two years and followed up with a solid campaign in the under-18s, where she averaged a goal per game. She’s an impact-per-possession player who can perhaps hit the scoreboard more regularly.


18: Meg Robertson – Midfielder, Vic Country, 169cm
Nominated: National
U18 stats: 16 disposals, 2.7 marks, three tackles, 3.7 clearances – three games

Will almost certainly head to Carlton under the father/daughter rule – her father, Ben, played just three games for Carlton in 1992. The Blues will have an excellent contested ball winner with a great work rate and a good understanding of the game as a balanced midfielder.

She averaged half a goal per game (six goals in 12 games) for the Dandenong Stingrays this year, which highlights her potential to be a dangerous forward as well as someone who can play on-ball, but her accuracy and composure in front of the goals have been a concern from this year.

But having said that, she has many tools to her game that will make her a solid player at Carlton next year and hopefully beyond.


17: Kiara Bischa – Defender, Queensland, 171cm
Nominated: Queensland
U18 stats: 8.7 disposals, 1.3 marks, four tackles – three games

Whilst Kiara Bischa doesn’t get a lot of the ball and doesn’t take many marks, many regard Bischa as one of the best one-on-one key defenders in the draft crop. She has been tasked with names such as Lauren Young (Port Adelaide pre-listed and best player in the under-18s this year) and Ash Centra (top-five draftee in 2024) and has kept them quiet.

She’s a competitive beast and takes much pride in her one-on-one contests, similarly to that of an Amelie Borg or Jasmine Ferguson – not big possession getters, but great one-on-one defenders. She’s also a reliable kick out of the backline when moving the ball out of defence.

She had an outstanding under-18s campaign and was rewarded with a spot at fullback in the under-18s All-Australian team. While she can still work on being more of an aerial presence regarding her marking, she’s already an established one-on-one defender that the Queensland clubs will love.


16: Cleo Buttifant – Key Defender, New South Wales, 174cm
Nominated: National
U18 stats: 14.7 disposals, 3.3 marks, 3.3 tackles, three inside 50s, three rebound 50s – three games

A key defender out of the Giants academy, Cleo Buttifant put recruiters on notice after a very impressive under-18s championships at the Allies. What is impressive was her football IQ, knowing where exactly to be as the kick behind the play and combining that with her aerial work.

What also stands out in her game is that she is already blessed with great pace and running abilities, so when the ball is there to be won in defence, Buttifant’s shown that she can manoeuvre her way out of traffic and at least kick it out of danger.

She might still be raw in terms of fundamentals and picking out the right option, but Buttifant has all the athletic tools to be an elite intercept-marking defender.


15: Evie Long – Fwd-Mid, Queensland, 175cm
Nominated: National
U18 stats: 9.7 disposals, three marks, four tackles – three games, five goals

If it wasn’t for injury, Evie Long could be discussed more as a potential top-10 selection. She’s got many traits that recruiters would find attractive: She’s a good height, has a great endurance base, is quick for her size and has a great skill set.

This was evident from her performance for Queensland in the Under-18s championships, where she was one of a few players who hit the scoreboard multiple times but also highlighted her presence in the air.

The Lions Academy rates her highly, but concussion issues have kept her from having a clean run. One to watch in five years.


14: Kayley Kavanagh – Midfielder, Vic Metro, 169cm
Nominated: National
U18 stats: 17.7 disposals, 5.7 tackles, two marks, 5.6 clearances, 3.3 inside 50s – three games

After a mild campaign for Calder Cannons last year in the talent league, Kayley Kavanagh shot up the board with an outstanding 2023 in both the talent league and the championships. Not only is she consistent with her game on the inside, but her ability to get on the outside to receive has also been solid.

In the Talent League this year, she recorded 20-plus disposal games in nine of her 11 games. She also applied herself very well defensively, averaging over eight tackles per game for Calder and nearly six per game for Vic Metro.

Whilst her outside game does require some polish, her ability to run and gather possession holds her in good stead to find a home in the AFLW.


13: Jess Rentsch – Defender, Vic Country, 172cm
Nominated: National
Talent League Stats: 15.6 disposals, 5.8 tackles, 3.7 inside 50s, 2.3 rebound 50s – 12 games, four goals

Perhaps one of my favourite players to watch from this draft cohort. What I love the most about Jess Rentsch is her willingness to take the game on at every opportunity she can.

With blistering speed, a solid running tank and the ability to come from the half-back line, she’s a player who can gather metres rapidly and will prove herself beneficial to any side coming up the ladder.

The skills, specifically her abilities by foot, remain a slight on her game, but her abilities to run and carry the ball are a unique trait that she has. She showed this year that she can kick goals from long range. She’s no slouch defensively either, averaging nearly six tackles per game in the Talent League this year.


12: Sophie Peters – Outside Mid, Queensland, 163cm
Nominated: Queensland
U18 stats: 11 disposals, one mark, three tackles – three games, two goals

Many people believe Sophie Peters is not just the best player out of the Brisbane Lions academy but the best talent out of Queensland. She’s the one you want with the ball in hand regarding transition play.

She’s fast, she’s elite at changing direction, and despite a minuscule average of 11 disposals per game across the championships, she often makes teams pay with her decision-making and kicking abilities.

Although predominantly an outside midfielder, Peters is a player that can develop into a terrifically balanced midfielder. She’s already got the skill; she needs to work on her craft on the inside. She averaged nearly six tackles per game for the Lions Academy in the Talent League, which highlights her work rate.


11: Georgia Clark – Key Forward, Tasmania, 173cm
Nominated: National
Talent League Stats: 15.9 disposals, four marks, 5.3 tackles, 2.5 inside 50s – 11 games, 17 goals

Georgia Clark might be a fraction undersized for a key-position forward, but what I’ve seen from her in the Coates Talent League this year suggests a promising future for her in the game.

She already has a strong body but is also dangerous on the lead. The downside is that her speed and athleticism aren’t as good as others around her. But her understanding of the game and her marking hands make up for it.

Another thing that will impress recruiters is her forward pressure. She averaged over five tackles in the talent league, and despite a lack of forward 50 supply for Tasmania in the championships this year, she averaged 4.7 tackles per game in her three games this year.


10: Kaitlyn Srhoj – Midfielder, Western Australia, 175cm
Nominated: National
U18 stats: 17.3 disposals, 1.3 tackles, 4.7 marks, 2.3 inside 50s – three games

Tall midfielders are worth their weight in gold in today’s modern game – both men’s and women’s, especially ones with an aerial presence. This is Kaitlyn Srhoj, one of the taller midfielders in this year’s draft cohort.

Her athletic profile also helps her: She’s a great runner, strong in the upper body, and agile. She was named MVP in the under-17s futures game last year and has since gone from strength to strength.

Srhoj had some awe-inspiring performances at the WAFLW, picking up a 20-disposal performance against South Fremantle. She’s also susceptible to go missing in games, but the talent and the upside are enormous.


9: Mikayla Williamson – Midfielder, Vic Country, 173cm
Nominated: Victoria
U18 stats: 18.3 disposals, 2.7 marks, four tackles, three clearances, 2.3 inside 50s – three games

Many players in this top 10 have so much upside; Mikayla Williamson is one of them. Athletically speaking, she’s got all the bases covered: great explosive speed, a fantastic endurance base and outstanding evasiveness.

Another thing that will hold her in good stead when she steps into the AFLW is that she can play multiple roles. She’s seen much action across the half-back line over the past two years and much time in the middle as this year progressed.

She was named on the bench of the under-18s carnival All-Australian side this year, but there’s a lot more work to be done with her use of the ball by foot, but that’s already getting worked on. She can win the clearances out of the middle and rebound the ball out of the defensive 50.


8: Brooke Boileau – Midfielder, South Australia, 169cm
Nominated: South Australia
U18 stats: 22 disposals, five tackles, 2.7 marks, 4.3 clearances, 2.6 inside 50s – three games, one goal.

Brooke Boileau could be one of the bargains for the South Australian clubs at the draft after putting together an incredibly consistent campaign for the state in the under-18s and South Adelaide in the SANFLW.

There’s an outstanding balance between her offensive and defensive capabilities. When the ball is there to be won, she’s super clean below her knees, strong in the contest when needed and a great clearance player. When she doesn’t have the ball, she’s harassing and tackling.

This year, she was named in the All-Australian side in the championships because of great clearance work and superb defensive pressure. There’s a massive future for her.


7: Elaine Grigg – Mid-Fwd, South Australia, 165cm
Nominated: National
U18 stats: 18 disposals, 6.3 tackles, 1.3 marks, 2.3 clearances, 2.3 inside 50s – three games, one goal

One of the more dangerous mid-sized forwards of this year’s draft class, Elaine Grigg is a tackle-first and ask-questions-later sort of player who was a member of Central District’s premiership team this year in the SANFLW, capped off with a 15-tackle effort in the premiership win.

In terms of her athleticism, she has a lot of pace and agility and can even work up the ground, as seen in several games this year in both SANFLW and the championships, where she can in the midfield.

Her elite defensive pressure does bring to mind someone like Courtney Hodder, and given her ability to tackle and force turnovers, she’s a top-line defensive player with much scope to be an incredible offensive weapon.

6: Georgie Cleaver – Key Fwd-Ruck, Western Australia, 181cm
Nominated: Western Australia
WAFLW stats: 11.9 disposals, 2.3 marks, 5.1 tackles, 12.1 hitouts – 11 games,

Georgie Cleaver is the best available key position talent in the draft cohort. Cleaver is a talented dual-sport athlete, juggling a netball career and a football career.

As far as athleticism goes, she’s an elite athlete: She has a good endurance base, can leap, and is exceptionally mobile for her height. Her most significant strength is aerial, which makes her a menace for key defenders to match up on.

She only featured twice in the under-18 championships in the past couple of years, one last year and one this year, and was a prominent figure in both games. She’s shown that she can develop as a key forward or a ruck who can be an extra midfielder. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw her play more as a midfielder five years later.


5: Ella Slocombe – Mid-Fwd, Western Australia, 165cm
Nominated: National
U18 stats: 15 disposals, two tackles, 3.3 clearances, two inside 50s – three games, one goal

Despite an injury-riddled 2023 campaign for Claremont in the WAFL women’s competition, Ella Slocombe has many attributes that make her a high-end talent. There’s a great blend of elite athleticism and a developed skill-set that can hold up in AFLW footy.

She’s got a great burst of speed coming out of the stoppage but also has reached the level of composure that allows her to hit her teammates lace out, as well as prove to be a handful up forward, kicking at least one goal in four of her six WAFLW games.

She’s a convenient player at ground level, and whilst a knee issue kept her out of a large part of the WAFLW season, she’s still shown more than enough of what she can add to any side.

4: Brooke Barwick – Midfielder, Tasmania, 159cm
Nominated: National
2022 U18 stats: 14.5 disposals, 2.5 tackles, 4.5 clearances, 2.5 inside 50s – two games

While there is little of Brooke Barwick in size, she adds so much as an inside grunt-type player. She loves to tackle, she loves her contested ball and is not afraid of whoever she takes on for the ball.

As an underager in last year’s championships, she did more than enough to hold her own against older players and bigger opponents, albeit in just two games. There’s enough to suggest she can push to the outside and show a more balanced game style.

However, she suffered an ACL injury before her 2023 campaign, which robbed us of seeing what she could do before the Draft. But there’s enough logged-in from last year and the year before in the talent league that she’s a top-10 talent.


3: Kristie-Lee Weston-Turner, Utility, Vic Metro, 178cm
Nominated: National
Talent League stats: 12.8 disposals, 1.6 marks, 3.4 tackles, 2.8 inside 50s – five games, four goals

Regarding athleticism, Kristie-Lee Weston-Turner is perhaps the most exciting talent to come out of this year’s crop. She’s a player who has proved in her limited games this year that she can play multiple positions on the ground.

Primarily a key forward with her height, she has the potential to play up the ground and burn players with her speed and agility, and she has proven to be quite a handful this year. In her lone game in the championships, she could’ve had a field day in front of goal but wasted her chances. Her skills and composure in front of goal need work.

Nonetheless, Weston-Turner has much potential; whoever gets her could have a generational talent.

2: Alyssia Pisano – Forward, Vic Metro, 162cm
Nominated: Victoria
Talent League stats: 11.1 disposals, 2.1 marks, 2.9 tackles, 2.1 inside 50s – 14 games, 38 goals

Despite her size, you want the ball in Alyssa Pisano’s hands regarding crunch time. Throughout her time at the Eastern Ranges, Pisano has kicked 67 goals from 29 games –an average of over two goals per game.

For my money, she’s easily the best Victorian talent coming out of the draft. She already has a great skill set and is reliable enough in front of goals, though it’s been said she could be a better shot on goal. Despite this, she kicked a goal in every game she played in the talent league this year.

Talented small forwards do not grow on trees in any form of the game, and Pisano has the potential to be one of the best smalls in the AFLW.


1: Piper Window – Midfielder, South Australia, 166cm
Nominated: South Australia
U18s stats: 17.3 disposals, 3.3 marks, six tackles, three clearances, 3.3 inside 50s – three games, one goal

With Lauren Young and Shineah Goody already taken off the board due to being Port Adelaide pre-selections, Piper Window remains the best live selection coming out of what was a dominant South Australian side in the under-18 championships.

While Young and Goody were the clear standouts in this year’s draft cohort, that doesn’t mean we should be counting Window out either. She produced a campaign that has put her in this position as one of the best available young talents in the draft. She was ultra-impressive against senior bodies in the SANFLW, putting up some great numbers for a 17-year-old.

Her inside game is already elite; she’s an excellent overhead mark and has the burst-out of stoppages that any side would love to have.

The Doc is the heart and soul of our AFLW coverage. He pours himself into it to provide the best in the business. If you come here for AFLW stuff and enjoy what he does, please consider buying him a coffee for the work he does by clicking the link below. I’m sure he’d greatly appreciate it.